COMMERCE — Freshmen normally aren’t the go-to players for any team, especially during the playoffs.
But for the Commerce Lady Tigers, freshmen playing at a high level is the norm and that was no different Friday night during the Lady Tigers’ 56-38 first-round win in the Class A Public state playoffs over the Montgomery County Lady Eagles.
The Lady Tigers host a state quarterfinals game on Tuesday. Opponent and time are to be determined.
Freshmen sisters Asia and Mya Jones combined for 46 points (Asia 27, Mya 19) of the team’s 56 points in the win.
However, Mya left the game in the fourth quarter due to injury. The extent of the injury was unknown.
“It was a complete team effort,” coach Brad Puckett said. “Earlier in the year, we had one or two people doing everything for us, and right now, everybody is doing something.”
Outside of the lucrative scoring by the Jones sisters, Puckett praised 5-foot-10 sophomore Savannah Mullis’ effort on the boards as she snagged 14 rebounds, along with four points.
He said if he had to give a player of the game award, it would go to Mullis.
“She (Mullis) did everything we told her to do,” he said. “She found No. 33 (Talijah Brown), which was their (Montgomery County’s) biggest player, all night and she never let her get her hands on the ball very much.
“She made sure they were one-and-done. I told the girls coming in, ‘They’re not great shooters, but they get the ball up to the basket and they get second and third attempts because they crash the boards so hard. And we can’t let that happen.’ And Savannah was all over the boards tonight. Once she got it, she chinned it, she took care of it, got it to our point guard so that we could run our offense.”
Asia and Mya Jones combined for 15 of the Lady Tigers’ 19 first-quarter points, including two 3-pointers, en route to an early 19-11 lead. Commerce built the lead to 30-19 by halftime behind stellar defensive play, which created a few more opportunities for the high-octane Lady Tigers offense.
The defense didn’t let up in the third quarter as it held the Lady Eagles’ offense to seven points, but the offense managed only eight points of its own, and the lead was 38-26 starting the fourth quarter.
However, Asia Jones saved her best for the fourth quarter as she scored 12 points, including the opening six points. Mya Jones scored the next four points as part of a 10-0 Lady Tigers run and bumped the margin to 48-26.
Asia Jones scored the next six points and Mullis grabbed her second bucket of the night to put an exclamation point on the victory.